The NHL has been inundated recently with boarding penalties and illegal checks to the head that have lingered between “hockey plays gone wrong” and something more nefarious.
So kudos to Ryan Garbutt of the Dallas Stars for eliminating the gray area and giving us an old fashioned, no-question-about it head shot on Dustin Penner of the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, earning him an in-person hearing with the NHL:
Boy, that was the kind of hit Matt Cooke used to deliver back when he was Matt Cooke: Rushing out of the penalty box, hitting anything with a head, and taking advantage of a player in a prone position with a leaping shoulder to the face.
From the NHL, on Garbutt's in-person hearing with the League:
Penner has full mobility and is walking under his own power, according to the Ducks, who won their seventh in a row in a 6-3 victory. Penner had just passed the puck in the Dallas end during a Ducks power play when Garbutt hit him up high with his shoulder at 5:29 of the second.
The 6-foot-4, 247-pound Penner laid prone before teammates helped him off the ice to the dressing room. Penner entered Sunday's action with two goals, two assists and a plus-7 rating in five games and re-assumed his top line spot in his second stint with the Ducks.
Asked about Penner, Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said, "We'll see. It looks [OK] right now, but there's a big series of tests you have to go through when you're knocked out on the ice."
Obviously, the injury will factor into the suspension’s duration. But even without the repercussions, this is one where Brendan Shanahan can just roll tape for three minutes, say “yup” and just put up a graphic telling us how many games Garbutt received.